Arab lawmaker forfeits parliamentary immunity, arrested

Arab-Israeli Member of Knesset Basel Ghattas was arrested hours after forfeiting his parliamentary immunity. 

Basel Ghattas of the Arab Joint List was arrested Thursday afternoon on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, fraud, breach of trust and violation of Israel Prisons Service orders.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein had announced hours beforehand that Ghattas will be stripped of his parliamentary immunity.

The 15-member Knesset House Committee voted unanimously the previous day in favor of removing his immunity. A special plenary session was set for 4 p.m. on Thursday for a final vote to make it official, which turned out not to be necessary, as Ghattas forfeited his immunity earlier in the day.

Ghattas is currently under investigation for collaborating with Palestinian terrorists in an Israeli prison and, specifically, for giving them cell phones that would likely help them coordinate attacks against Israelis. If proven guilty, he will likely be arrested.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said there was sufficient evidence to charge Ghattas, who visited Ketziot prison in the Negev on Sunday, where he handed documents and envelopes containing cell phones and SIM cards to two Palestinians serving time for acts of terror.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that if the allegations are confirmed, a grave offense was committed against the state’s security and the citizens of Israel. “Anyone who harms the state’s security must be punished severely and must be banned from serving in Israel’s Knesset,” he stated.

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Ghattas, who has a history of pro-Palestinian activism, was among three Arab-Israeli Knesset members who paid a condolence visit to families of Palestinian terrorists last February.

By: World Israel News Staff